What are some of the qualities of youth? A sparkle in the eye? A buoyant step? An enthusiasm for life? Laughter that springs easily from the heart?
The physical effects of aging are inevitable with the passing years, but our spirit needn’t be touched by them.
Once Swami Kriyananda visited a new doctor, who looked up with concern after reviewing the voluminous file of his medical history. Gently the doctor inquired, “How is your health, sir?”
“Excellent!” Swamiji replied to the slightly baffled doctor. This is how he saw it, because he identified himself not as a body but as a flow of divine energy.
Ultimately youth is a state of mind, an approach to life, that has little to do with the age of the body. It begins with keeping an open mind towards new ideas and ways of doing things. Paramhansa Yogananda wrote: “People fall into the habit of thinking they know exactly how things ought to be. They identify happiness with fixity instead of accepting life’s natural flow. They become in time what I call ‘psychological antiques,’ wanting nothing moved, changed, or even improved.”
Why do we become stuck in old ways of doing things? Because it takes less energy than expanding our minds to embrace the new and untried. Keep alert for the tendency to become locked into fixed patterns. The more open-minded we are, the more fresh energy is able to flow into our consciousness.
Next, keep an open heart to everyone. Don’t stereotype people or put them in mental boxes by dismissing them in thinking, “Oh, he’s always been this way.” Ultimately we only trap ourselves with such concepts. Every person is a unique creation of God. If even no two snowflakes are alike, consider how infinitely varied by comparison is the human race.
Don’t judge, but accept everyone as they are. We may not agree with another person’s perspective, or even particularly like them, but it’s so much more enjoyable to see them as a child of God playing their role in life’s drama. The more your heart is open to all, the more you feel a buoyancy that keeps you filled with new energy and joy.
Willing hands and feet are another key to remaining youthful. Try to do whatever is asked of you with positive enthusiasm, not collapsing into the thoughts, “I’m too tired,” or “I’ve done enough.”
Whenever I’ve pushed through fatigue to do what was needed, I discovered a hidden reservoir of energy. The more I drew on this untapped reserve, the more I felt renewed and refreshed. Over time I realized that this reservoir is limitless and always accessible if we say “Yes!” in all circumstances. We can never plumb its depths nor come up empty-handed, because this reservoir is fed by an infinite source of cosmic energy.
Finally, and most importantly, we stay young by having a strong inner life. Love God and meditate on Him daily. Yoganandaji said, “By meditation, the soul rises above its identification with the body and beholds itself as a pure image of Spirit. It develops eternal mental youthfulness as it grows indifferent to the illusive consciousness of past and future. By feeling the ocean of Bliss-God, the soul finds perpetual rejuvenation in body and mind.”
So, have an open mind, an open heart, and willing hands, and practice meditation. In the end, why do we really want to stay young? Because then we feel our oneness with the ever-youthful, ever-blissful spirit of God.
Divine Mother’s little child,